Limited to just 50 pieces, each bearing an individually engraved number on their transparent back, the new Vulcain 50s Presidents’ Alarm Watch Edition France (ref. 160151.323L) will be offered exclusively in France. Yes, a market that proved to be the most loyal to the brand since it was resurrected back in 2001 in its current form, gets a special edition version of one of the most successful “affordable” complication watches currently offered by the Swiss watchmaker. Powered by Vulcain’s in-house “Cricket” hand-wound movement, the limited edition wrist watch sports the famous mechanical alarm complication module.
Although mechanical alarm watches look kind of archaic these days when just about everyone seems to own at least a smartphone, as well as a whole plethora of other electronic devices that organize (and also complicate) our lives, they are still quite popular among enthusiasts.
Perhaps, the reason for their popularity has something to do with their relative autonomy, both from power grids and software bugs, but the main factor here is, of course, the sentimental value for the older generation of customers.
As usual, the watch speaks that easily recognizable Vulcain design language that allows it to stand from the crowd in just about any boutique or a jewelry store. Compared to the 2013 Vulcain 50s Presidents’ Watch with Alarm that was introduced last spring at the Baselworld 2013 event, the Edition France model comes in the same medium-sized stainless steel body, but has its dial stripped of all numerals that are now replaced with slightly oversized, bullet-shaped hour markers.
Just like the hour and minute hands, the four indices at 3, 6, 9 and 12 hours feature thin strips of Superluminova that slightly increase the timekeeper’s legibility in darkness (I doubt that the luminous compound will do its job in an IMAX theater, though) and give it a mild sporty touch without ruining its classic appearance.
The movement that powers this timekeeper is their own Cricket V-16 Exactomatic caliber.
Built on just 17 jewels, comprising 199 moving parts, and ticking at pretty slow by current standards of fine watchmaking 18,000 vibrations per hour, the movement is equipped with a double-barrel winding system that allows it around 42 hours of guaranteed autonomy.
It must be noted that the movement is finely crafted and tastefully decorated so the use of a sapphire case back in this particular case is fully justified: the movement is indeed a pleasure to look at.
WWR preliminary verdict:
Build quality: 4.5/5
Value for money: 4.5/5
Vulcain 50s Presidents’ Alarm Watch Edition France (ref. 160151.323L) specification
Price: $6800 (MSRP)
Movement: Manual (hand-wound,) Caliber Cricket V-16 Exactomatic, in-house, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 17
Movement frequency: 18,000 vph
Power reserve: 42 hours
Movement decoration: Vertical graining on bridges; Blued and polished screws; Beveled edges
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, alarm
Case material: Stainless steel, 316L-grade
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 42.00 mm
Case height: 12.40 mm
Lug width: 22/18 mm
Dial: Silver-toned, sunburst pattern
Hour markers: Rhodiumed, applied
Hands: Rhodiumed, luminous, dauphine-shaped
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Chestnut brown alligator leather strap with grained calfskin lining on a steel pin buckle
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective, domed
Case back: Sapphire, polished steel Vulcain logo